DARVO

DARVO is an acronym standing for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender, and is a form of gaslighting that all abusers use. It is fairly self-explanatory, and shows the steps the abuser takes whenever they are called on their behaviour.

The first step of DARVO is to Deny. “I didn’t do it.” They can use classic gaslighting tricks such as, “You’re imagining it,” or “You always take everything up wrong,” or a simple flat denial. The details may vary, but the denial is a key element of it.

The second step of DARVO is to Attack. This attack can be related to your original complaint, or something completely different to distract you.

So, as an example of an attack relating to your complaint, if you were calling them on how they caused a scene in the restaurant on your birthday, they might turn on you, saying something like, “Well, the service was so slow and you weren’t doing anything about it, and all your guests were getting fed up.”

An example of an irrelevant attack is a real one from my own life: My own father once went on the attack by telling me that he didn’t like the tone of my voicemail message.

And the third step of DARVO is to Reverse Victim and Offender.

In this step they make you the offender, and themselves the victim. In my restaurant example above, they might go on to say, “You’re always having a go at me, and I’m just trying to help make your birthday a success but nothing pleases you, and you’re so unreasonable, and you’re giving out to me even when I was trying to help.”

Tears can feature here too, as they sob how mean you are to them and they were just helping.

As ever with this narcissistic dynamic, the details can vary, but the pattern is the same. And you are left reeling, completely confused about the reality of it all: both the facts of the case in the case of the Denial, and the rightness of your position in the case of Reverse Victim and Offender.

The narcissist can often call in other people too, to agree with them, and as narcissists are good at drawing webs of people around them, through triangulation, and often have people scared of offending them, this can work well too, leaving you even more isolated and confused.

The fact is that a narcissist will never ever calmly consider that they might have been wrong, and discuss it rationally. Instead they will go straight on the attack and defend themselves with all they have got. DARVO is one of their tools of choice.

The concept of DARVO comes from Jennifer Freyd. More information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Freyd

What other DONMs say:

"I save them all"

“Thank you for all of your wonderful emails & information (I save all of them) you’ve helped me sort out alot of the craziness in my head.”
Terra Dansby, Rapid City, S.D.

"Catharsis"

“Your newsletters are catharsis for me. Every single time I read one. They help me to cope. They help me to see things I couldn’t see from my original perspective.”
Candice, Chicopee, MA

"Added to my notebook"

“Another brilliant and helpful section from you today, Danu … just added this to my notebook of your wisdom. “
S.D.

"Permeated my mind and soul"

“I’ve been getting these from you since Sept 2014. In that time your ideas have permeated my mind and soul.”
S.D.

"Lighter and Easier"

“When I read your writing, I don’t tend to feel as ‘heavy and sad’. There’s a ‘warmth’ with what you say that makes it a bit lighter and easier to read, for me anyway.”
T.H. 

"Fantastic Resource"

“Just wanted to say thanks for these pearls of wisdom which somehow always arrive at the right time! What a fantastic resource to remain strong and sane 🙂 “
R.W. Auckland NZ

"I enjoy reading them"

“I do look forward to receiving your emails and I enjoy reading them every time. ” “Sylvia, Altea (Spain)”

"They are excellent!"

“Thank you Danu! Love love reading your weekly posts! They are excellent!” MC….Iselin, NJ.

"Helps Lighten The Burden"

“I appreciate all the emails that you send.
You know so much and just knowing that you have struggled too and understand helps lighten the heavy burden that we carry.” Brenda, Martinsburg, WV

"Beyond Description"

“The help you give me with these notes is beyond description. Thank you.” M.S.

"My healing has skyrocketed"

“Just wanted to a quick thank you for the newsletters over the past few months. They are always so helpful and thought provoking. My healing has skyrocketed since signing up.” “M, Boston, MA, USA”

"They make such a difference"

“I have read all your work and love reading your emails, please keep sharing your thoughts, they make such a difference.” Linda, and Leicestershire.

"They help me heal"

” Ty for all of your shares! I read them all. They help me heal.” Brenda G
WV

"Insightful"

“I love reading your emails and there’s always a great insightful takeaway. “
S.G. Chicago, Illinois/ USA)

"So Inspirational"

Your writings are truly so good. So inspirational and so TRUE! MC, NJ

"Useable truths"

“Just a quick note to thank you for your many words of strength, wisdom, & usable truths.”
Daphne Yvonne Bradshaw.

"Valuable and helpful"

I have read all your emails and can’t say enough how valuable and helpful your words have been for me.” Lisa, Melbourne

"You understand"

“When I read your words, I feel you completely understand what I’m going through. And this means so much to me. So thank you!! “
Katja, Arnhem, Netherlands.

"Lifesaving"

“Lifesaving!! Thanks Danu! No Words!”
R. G.

"Invaluable"

“Thank you for these weekly emails. They are invaluable to me. Each time I read one I am amazed how much you seem to be describing me and my life. You have been helping me so much through these emails.”
Jackie, Texas, US

"Your message nurtures"

“Danu- As always your message nurtures and rings true. I am a stronger more focused woman for your supportive messages.” Ms.D.Mortier Vemont, USA

"Come precisely when I need them"

“I always find the emails you send are exactly what I need to be reading and understanding at exactly that time! They help towards making some of my difficult decisions and precisely come at the time when i most need them. Thank you.”
Selina, London, UK

"Always Validating"

“Your messages never fail to make me think – always interesting, always thought provoking and most of all, always validating which is of endless worth to me.”Ziggy, Western Australia

"Skills to move forward"

” I thoroughly enjoy reading your emails, and always, get good things from them…affirmation, validation, understanding what has happened, and skills to move forward in a more positive light. Thank you, thank you!”
S. North Carolina

"Telling my story"

“Dear Danu, I continue to read your e mails and am amazed at how you seem to be telling me my own story. ” Amy

"I needed to hear it"

“On the day this email arrived, I really needed to hear it. You gave me words for my thoughts and feelings, and you made me realise it was okay to feel the way I did that day.” Carrie, Derby UK

"Reassuring, helpful, a blessing."

“Thanks so much for your notes. Reassuring, helpful, a blessing.” – Marlene

"Always suportive"

“Thank you for your always-supportive and insightful writings” T.A. Arizona

"Changing Everything"

“Once again, your email arrived with amazing timing, offering a message I needed to hear now, a re-framing that is already changing everything.” Suzanne, Washington D.C.